The play starts by introducing the hardships of life in communist Romania. When writing the play, I was concerned that most people have enough problems at work and at home and do not want to come to a theatre and hear more problems. I think that this is one of the reasons why many people avoid literature, TV programming, and entertainment describing the misery of life in unfortunate countries.
The solution I found for the play was to introduce these hardships by telling the jokes that Romanians came up with as a strategy for keeping sane, including a joke about "Bula". When in San Francisco and in New York I mentioned Bula, the omnipresent character in Romanian jokes, I was delighted to hear audience members laugh before I finished the joke -- I knew they were Romanians. I was, however, concerned about whether such jokes will work with an American audience, but after the first few performances my fears were put to rest. Not only did the spectators laugh wholeheartedly at the jokes, but many left the theater speaking about the palatable presentation of the hardships.
The play then describes a turning point in my life, when tragic events convinced me that the situation in Romania was no joke, but rather a war-like situation in which the slightest action against the government could cost me my life. One of the most difficult feats in the play was to transition from jokes to tragedy and then back to jokes. The latter was done by describing the fleeing from Romania after a failed assassination attempt and a philosophical change of heart about the main goal of a revolution.
Once in Austria, thoroughly prepared plans went up in smoke with the realization of the anticipated but not fully grasped lack of understanding of the Western world. The play turns once again comical when describing the sending to Transylvania of a truck full of blood needed by injured revolutionaries.
But the real comedy starts with the arrival in America. Whether it is the shock of rural Idaho, the misunderstandings of an impatient job search, the learning of the English language through unorthodox means, or the unfortunate lexical coincidences of the Romanian language, I was delighted to see the audience laughing until some literally fell off their chairs. It is this half of the play that challenged most my limited performing experience — it took a while to get used to the long breaks I had to take to allow people to finish laughing.
Some felt that the conclusion of the play had a dash of motivational speech. In response, I considered changing the ending, to make it more artsy or theatrical. But in the end I decided to leave almost intact, as I felt it represented the spirit of the play: among the humor, and the tragedy, and the triumph, a lot remains to be pondered — and that is part of the adventure we call life.